Art and Blockchain -> SigniChain

What couldn’t sound more different was transformed into a project by Kevin Westphal and Konstantin Graf. As part of an Innovation Programme for Business Models and Pioneering Solutions (IGP), the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy has been funding market-oriented non-technical innovations since 2019. In the first IGP call for proposals in 2020, SMEs were supported in the realisation of individual projects, cooperation projects and network projects in the field of data-driven business models. CHAINSTEP applied for funding in this call for proposals with an individual project called SigniChain and was invited to submit a full proposal as an selected company in June 2020.

The SigniChain project

In the SigniChain project, CHAINSTEP is testing the potential of sensor-based art surveillance with blockchain protection. Art logistics is a specialized branch of the logistics sector that offers professional transport and storage of art and other collectibles under atmospheric and security controlled conditions. However, if sensor data are collected by the logistics service provider during the surveillance, they remain within the logistics provider. At the same time, this data holds the untapped potential to become part of the customer experience when visualized in an appealing way. Furthermore it provides a basis for assessing the perfect condition of the work in expert opinion processes, e.g. when an art object is resold. Last but not least, this data basis could also create trust among art insurers. It is often the insurance company that recommends a suitable art storage facility to the collector.

SigniChain’s approach to the solution involves continuous sensory monitoring of art objects and valuable goods. The collected data is reliably and storage-efficiently secured on a blockchain by way of its hash, the “fingerprint” of the data set. Sensors on the artwork itself continuously register vibrations, atmospheric conditions, location and many other data not only in the warehouse, but from the moment the collector hands over the valuable object. Digital signatures ensure that the data is transmitted to the owner in a tamper-proof manner. Warning messages in the event of critical readings are not only sent to the owner of the artwork, but also immediately documented on the blockchain. This creates a forgery-proof certificate on the blockchain for the storage period, which can be used to prove professional storage when reselling.

SigniChain in the art market

Over the last decade, the art market has increasingly opened up to digital business models. Until recently, however, art logistics has lagged behind this trend towards digital offerings. Although there are well-established digital systems in some areas, for example for the management and archiving of art collections, these are only used by the collector, regardless of the main player in this field, the logistics provider. Similarly, sensor-based monitoring of storage rooms and transport trolleys are also widespread, but only as a local security measure for the logistician.

With SigniChain, CHAINSTEP has already gathered interest from well-known players in art logistics and is planning not only a detailed elaboration of the business model, but also a prototypical implementation at an internationally renowned art logistics company as part of an IGP grant.

Written by Kevin Westphal

Self-Sovereign Identity: Medium-sized businesses digitalise trust

How can trust be digitised? Marcus Olszok, Head of carTRUST at Christoph Kroschke GmbH, and Jan Christoph Ebersbach, Head of Blockchain Engineering CHAINSTEP GmbH, report on how the trusting cooperation with customers in car registration is transferred to digitization. The carTRUST project, which will go live in early 2021, relies on self-sovereign identity technology for this purpose. Learn more about the carTRUST project and the Self-Sovereign Identity technology in this Expert Talk (in German language).

Joachim Soergel, Managing Director of inveni portum solutions, and Madjid Tehrani, Blockchain Architect from CHAINSTEP, explain about and discuss some key questions when it comes to the usage of Blockchain for the Maritime Business:

  • What are the recent developments in the area of “Maritime Blockchain”?
  • What values does blockchain add to current technologies for the Maritime Business?
  • How to approach a blockchain project in the Maritime Business?
  • What are the challenges to implement blockchain based solutions?

Below the recording is linked to the Expert Talk.

On June 3rd 2020 I was honoured to be a panellist at the Crypto Valley Event: Bringing Enterprise Blockchain Solutions Alive. Together with great minds in the Blockchain space we discussed about the key success factors of Blockchain solutions for enterprises and many more ideas. Topics that were discussed:

Key success factors

Benjamin Soh from STACS talked about integrating as many technology platforms as possible to the blockchain. It is important to be able to easily integrate a working platform to a blockchain, so that the blockchain solution can improve instead of interrupt a process. Beat Bannwart from UBS added that to successful you have to solve a real problem to give the end-user an incentive to actually you a new platform. In the process you should focus on the main problem and keep the solution as simple as possible to enhance the chance of an end-user be able to understand how to benefit from the solution. Shi Khai Wei from Longhash Ventures had a different approach to define success factors. He prefers picking the right teams and the right people to be successful. Additionally, the team then has to clearly define a problem and offer a viable solution to actually solve this problem. For him red flags are people creating a solution simply because they are able to do so and not because they have a clearly defined problem that they understand and want to solve.

How to tackle problems

Julian La Picque from Uncrypted described his experience about bringing different parties in a consortium together and work on the same problem. He explained difficulties doing this but ultimately concluded that the network effect was strong and finding a common ground is beneficial. Johannes Hinckeldeyn from the TUHH picked up the idea about the standardisation process and how his institute is tackling problems in supply chains by researching standardisation. Timo Schneider (that’s me) from TUHH and CHAINSTEP added that the standard developing process is in his early stages and problems that can be solved by standards are not defined yet. The blockchain standard I wrote my master thesis about was about location storage on a blockchain. The result was that this standard cannot be used across different blockchain technologies which I pointed out by concluding interoperability is a key success factor for blockchain solutions as well as blockchain standards.

What ist the best team

Johannes Hinckeldeyn added his insights about the role of universities in such consortia. He pointed about that universities are predestined to take the role of a consultant. They don’t focus on economic factors but rather the ideas behind the solution. I added that consortia are a good idea when it comes to new ideas and technologies where expertise is rare and problems are difficult. As soon as ideas mature I concluded that consortia play a less important role and agile companies or start ups are better suited to bring a solution alive. Shi Khai Wei had a slightly different view by saying that it depends mainly on the use case itself. Consortia can be beneficial.

The above-mentioned topics are just a glimpse of the whole discussion, that can be found at the bottom as a video. It was a lively discussion and shares some fundamental thoughts we at CHAINSTEP live and breathe day to day. If you have further ideas or question do not hesitate to mail me at CHAINSTEP or simply get in contact via LinkedIn. I’m always happy to share ideas and talk about future projects.

Written by Timo Schneider


Shop Window Secure Digital Identities

With its innovation competition “Showcase Secure Digital Identities”, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) has called for the development of convincing concept ideas for the broad application of Secure Digital Identities (SDI). The competition is to focus on municipalities, cities and metropolitan regions. Under the name STEREO, a consortium from the Hamburg metropolitan region has successfully applied and is working out its concept idea in competition with ten other consortia from other regions in Germany between June and November 2020. During this period, the feasibility and practicability of the concept has to be checked, obstacles identified and the prerequisites created for a quick and efficient implementation of the concept idea in a subsequent implementation phase. At the end of 2020 it will be decided which consortia may test their concepts in a three-year implementation phase starting in April 2021.

STEREO – the project from Hamburg

The approach of the STEREO consortium: We create the secure digital identity for municipal mobility services. In doing so, it is important to us that citizens can register and log on to services on the Internet using simple, fast and trustworthy procedures. The protection of personal data has the highest priority. Our project focuses on the high relevance of the STEREO Use Cases in everyday life. To ensure this, we are approaching citizens and ask for their support.

Identities form the basis for trust by reflecting the certainty of knowing a partner in action. To avoid misuse, however, not only the identity of the owner, but also the identity of the object triggering the action must be electronically verifiable without any doubt. This is where the STEREO project comes in by generating and linking secure digital identities of vehicles, their owners and users. Vehicle owners can identify themselves completely digitally via their smartphone or tablet and use an ID solution of their choice. The digital identity thus created, in combination with the vehicle’s digital right of disposal, serves as the basis for a variety of usage scenarios in the mobility world of the future
The STEREO use cases

The use cases were selected with a view to daily vehicle use in order to ensure the greatest possible coverage and transferability to everyday situations. It is possible that further use cases will be added. It should also be noted that the use cases are not yet final in terms of design.

Click here for the STEREO website.

Welcome to the CHAINSTEP Expert Talk! At our premiere, we will talk about certified process transparency to secure value propositions. Konstantin Graf explains the possibilities blockchain and IoT technology offer to certify processes and to provide secured transparency. Sebastian Beyer presents the experiences of Certivation GmbH with the protection of certificates via block chain. CHAINSTEP was technology partner in the development of the “Blockchain Ensured Certivicates” service, which went live in early 2018. At the end there is a short anecdote about how Crypto Kitties (almost) influenced the start of the certificate service.

Below the recording is linked to the Expert Talk.

For almost three years it was on the agenda at CHAINSTEP: in the Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg regular events belong to “Business Blockchain” with a focus on logistics and supply chain management. For COBILITY and with our partners and customers, we have already held various events at the hub, but it was IBM that gave us the impetus for our first Hub meetup (in this case together with IBM) on our core topic – Business Blockchain.

Title of the event: “Blockchain in real life.” A good fifty participants ensured a well-filled Meetup Room. After the welcome by Johannes Berg, Managing Director of Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg, Christan Schultze-Wolters, IBM Business Unit Manager Blockchain Solutions D-A-CH, gave an interesting overview of the various activities within the IBM Food Trust Initiative. The charts are available here.

Afterwards, three members of the HANSEBLOC consortium (Sovereign Speed, Kühne Logistik Universität (KLU) and CHAINSTEP) explained the state of development of the BMBF-funded project. Click here for the presentation and here for the project page.

After the presentations there were several questions from the interested audience. A nice get-together with finger food and drinks rounded off what we believe was a successful event.

For CHAINSTEP this was the starting signal for further Meetups around Business Blockchain. We are planning events on the blockchain-based ecosystems that are currently being created for the maritime industry, on our previous customer projects and on other current funded projects. At the request of many of the participants of the Meetup on 25 February, we will also be holding a basic event “Getting Started with Business Blockchain”, where participants will have the opportunity to discuss their questions about the use of the blockchain with experts after an introduction to the topic.

Subscribe to the CHAINSTEP newsletter here, register with the Meetup Group Innovationsforum Hamburg or keep up to date via the Digital Hub Logistics website.

Via Twitter, Grischa Brower-Rabinowitsch, head of external communication and topic management at R+V Versicherung, announced the good news that Kolja Mischok and Roland Schröder from Kravag were honored on December 4, 19, for the project “Corporate Claim Chain” as winners of the special prize “Digital Lighthouse 2019” (the picture above is from the Tweet).

Using the Claim Chain with the Blockchain, transport damages can be regulated much easier. Using a platform based on block chain technology, participants have full control over their data at all times and can control who receives which information when and how, or contribute to the rapid processing of your claims. For all participants, this results in a continuous digital process in which all information is documented in a comprehensible way. Thus, the process costs can be significantly reduced. Further information about the project can be found here.

On Oct 22 Blockchain was the main topic at the Bremen Cotton Exchange. Leonard Pust (BitMoin) and Jan Christoph Ebersbach, Head of Blockchain Engineering (CHAINSTEP), organized a training and workshop day together for the first time. The participants were as enthusiastic as we were. The combination of training and workshop in one day efficiently combined theory and practice and concrete next steps could be defined.

At 8.30 a.m. we took a courageous step into the paternoster in the historic building of the Cotton Exchange, directly on Bremen’s market square. The journey to the 5th floor was a problem-free one, but we had to get in and out of the car. The stop was a good foretaste of our event. Right at the top of the cotton exchange, in the impressive tower hall, we trained the basics and applications of blockchain technology from 9 am to 12.30 pm. From 1 p.m. the number of participants was reduced and the use of Blockchain in the promotional project “Room for Innovation, Blockchain for GMO sizing of organic cotton” was worked on. Lots of material for little time.

What was particularly remarkable for me was that the Cotton Exchange opened up the circle of participants for training and invited companies and organisations that did not participate in the project. In this way, the Blockchain Fundamentals could be made accessible to a wider audience and ideas and questions could be raised beyond the scope of the project.

In the second part of the day, after the lunch break, we applied the Blockchain theory to the project in a small group with the partners of the project. Both our technical architectural knowledge of the corporate use of blockchain and our experience in developing business models with blockchain were in demand. The next step is to put the ideas on paper and obtain feedback.

Article by Jan Christoph (JC) Ebersbach


Since July 2019, CHAINSTEP has been working together with the Blockchain Research Lab, Airbus and iPoint-systems  in the DiBiChain research project (digital imaging of circulation systems using a block chain), which is led by Altran Deutschland and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Over a period of three years, research is being conducted into how product cycles become more transparent and sustainable through the use of block chain technology.

Modern product cycles are complex and decentralized. It is often difficult to assess how sustainable a product is and whether ecological and social standards have been met. In the DiBiChain project, the project partners are developing a block chain system that digitally maps the product cycle and thus makes it transparent. This transparency enables resources to be tracked over the entire life cycle and externalities to be internalised in a stakeholder-friendly manner. A major contribution of the Blockchain Research Lab will be the development of an incentive system integrated into the blockchain, which allows a comprehensive recording of direct and indirect costs.

The research results will be evaluated and integrated in a use case provided by Airbus. Further information about DiBiChain can be found here.